Major Gift Supports Rutgers Faith-Based Communities Security Program to Address Global Threat of Violent Extremism

Senior officials from Rutgers University–Newark today announced a new program to combat targeted violence impacting communities of faith in the United States, Europe and other at-risk areas around the world. The Faith-Based Communities Security Program (FBCSP) is supported by a $1 million commitment from retired pharmaceutical executive Paul S. Miller, a 1962 graduate of Rutgers School of Law–Newark, through the Miller Family International Initiative Fund. 

In keynote remarks to more than two dozen security and law enforcement experts gathered at Rutgers School of Law–Newark to launch the new program, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: “The fact is religious intolerance is on the rise across the globe. All of us—whether serving in government or as members of religious communities—must speak out against intolerance, speak out against intimidation against vulnerable groups, and end the violence. We must go back to the shared values of all faiths that demand that we live together in peace, as a community, each of us looking out for the other no matter what sectarian differences we may have.”

Led by professors John J. Farmer, Jr. of the School of Law and John D. Cohen of the School of Criminal Justice, both of whom are affiliated with the Rutgers Institute for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security, the Faith-Based Communities Security Program will involve working directly with faith and security officials in specific European countries, communities across the United States, and other locations in North and South America, to: (1) assess current security efforts; (2) better understand best practices and operational gaps; (3) foster closer collaboration between law enforcement authorities and faith-based communities; and (4) help at-risk communities implement best practices.   

“Through FBCSP,” said Cohen, a former Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and Counter Terrorism Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “we hope not only to better understand this evolving and dynamic threat environment, but to develop and provide practical guidance and training that will inform proactive, community-based strategies to address the problem.”

The Faith-Based Communities Security Program was officially announced during today’s meeting of key security and law enforcement officials that was co-hosted by the University, the Jewish Federations of North America, and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The meeting, which also included senior representatives from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other government and law enforcement officials and community leaders, was held to examine the security situation involving Jewish communities in Europe. Among the participants were security experts from Jewish communities in the United States, France, Denmark, and Belgium. 

“Today’s modern policing services are taking on the roles as agents of social change through their actions and innovative community policing efforts, said Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network. “Police are the visible extension of government’s interests in protecting its people and communities. That’s why initiatives like this are more important now than ever.”

Establishment of the Faith-Based Communities Security Program follows an Inter-Faith Leadership Summit convened at Rutgers University–Newark in September 2014 to assist Cohen and Farmer in identifying the security threats facing Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and other communities of faith. 

“The consensus from our Inter-Faith Summit was clear,” said Farmer, University Professor and co-founder of the Institute for Emergency Preparedness and Homeland Security. “The problem of extremist violence directed at communities of faith transcends traditional boundaries; too often, however, the solutions to the problem have remained parochial. With this initiative, Rutgers hopes to bridge that gap, demonstrating that measures promoting security, freedom, and peace can be shared across the boundaries of nations, cultures and faiths in the service of our common humanity.”

Aimed at examining targeted violence directed at faith communities in general, the program will initially analyze violence directed at Jewish communities around the world. FBCSP will send a delegation to Europe later this year to begin engagement with local Jewish communities and law enforcement authorities and to conduct assessments in communities identified as vulnerable to violent extremist threats.

“Faith-based communities around the world are under attack and praying and talking about the problem are no longer sufficient,” said Paul Miller. “We must all join the effort if we want our children, grandchildren and generations yet to come to be able to live and pray in peace.”